Sunday , 21 January 2018

Parity calls for Ethereum hard fork

Parity Technologies has published an update on its efforts to reclaim funds lost in a high-profile coding error that occurred on ethereum last month.

In a blog post about the subject, the Parity team mentioned past issues that plagued ethereum, and tries to cast their recent incident as just another example. They fail to mention that more than half a million ether, worth over $230 million in current prices, were involved in this particular case.

Given the stakes, Parity sought to galvanize community support for a plan to “rescue” the funds in the post, appealing to those who run the software for the change.

While acknowledging a decision would ultimately be up to the community, Parity said its preferred fix would be made via protocol changes to the ethereum virtual machine (EVM). According to the blog post, this would be a “functional enhancement to the platform” that would both restore the lost funds and protect against similar cases in future.

Developers write:

“All of these funds are provably non-recoverable without a change in the blockchain’s state, opcode upgrades or consensus rules modification….No one should be under any illusion that unlocking these stuck funds would be anything other than a rescue operation – and would only be possible with a hard fork.”

Speaking at the time, the idea was criticized by ethereum developer Nick Johnston, who said it would “change an important invariant” in the EVM, potentially leading to “unexpected bugs, even in already-deployed contracts.”

The company’s positioning of the news also sought to stress the idea that the company can’t act unilaterally to recover the funds. A sign of the early stages of the process, it has also yet to document the idea as an ethereum improvement proposal (EIP), the official code patches for the platform.

Three options

The Parity teams lists three possible courses of actions at this point in time. The first would allow private key holders affected by certain issues to withdraw their ether as suggested by Vitalik Buterin. This approach, they say, will not cover the funds frozen in the Parity wallets because the relevant contract still contains code.

A second solution would be an address-specific recovery. They explain that this focuses on capturing as many edge cases as possible but is not tightly defined.

The third solution, suggested by Parity, is a change to the protocol which would allow the revival of ‘suicided’ contracts. They anticipate that this proposition will lead to a lot of disagreements but hope that the community will eventually get behind it.

In the time since the fund freeze, the Parity debate has triggered discussions reminiscent of the DAO hack of last year, in which hard fork contention spawned a competing cryptocurrency named ethereum classic (now valued at $1.7 billion), though on a smaller scale.

The Parity blog post concludes:

“It is our hope that the community would get behind a rescue of these funds to help all the users that we can.”

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